DARA Artisan’s Sourcing Trip to Iran

IMG_4535 copyModern Iran is an endless valley of contradictions. At once, an origin of civilization with little left to show for its rich cultural linage. The land is either arid or lush while its people are both outgoing and secretive. Women must wear headscarves, but dominate university enrollment. Alcohol is forbidden except among ethnic minorities, but Iran has the third highest alcohol consumption in the Middle East after Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Despite anti-Zionist fervor among some clerics, Jews move freely from home to shops and synagogues.

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Smooth surfaced, well-lighted and clearly posted highways are eventually choked by miles of traffic and consequent smog enveloping the main cities. Expressive and well educated, Iranians delight in hospitality towards foreigners, especially Americans, in obvious contrast to government statements about western infidels and Satanists.

Iran’s Cyrus the Great in the first millennium BC and his distant cousin, Darius, three decades later built an empire that reached from today’s central Russia to Morocco. Their imposing palaces at Persepolis and tombs in the limestone Zagros Mountains radiated beauty and endurance.  Almost inexplicably, very little is left to see. The remaining ruins were scared during the past one hundred years by cement from indiscriminate mason’s trowels.
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Early Persian artisans through successive generations embraced sophisticated design and craftsmanship in carpet weaving, textiles, wood inlays, glass blowing, ceramics, silver filigree, enamel ware and miniature painting to illustrate religious texts. In the past ten years, a revitalization of these crafts has begun to take hold. But, much of what was created in-between was lost to centuries of hostile invasions and neglect.

The cities of Shiraz, Yazd, Esfahan and Tabriz are the centers of a new cultural awakening. Tehran is a hot bed of contemporary fine artists working in a myriad of mixed media achieving high international standards. Prices for the works of a few painters at auction fetch in the million-dollar range.

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Unlike neighboring Baghdad, Cairo, and Damascus before its recent destruction, Samarkand and Jerusalem, little remains of the old cities of Iran. The nomads of Quashgai, Bachtiari and Kurds in the north are many fewer than their festive clad forbearers who herded sheep and wandered.

As Iran makes its way back towards recovering its revered past, today’s historians look to the Ancient Greek writer, Herodotus for direction. It was legacy left by Cyrus the Great that inspired world conqueror Alexander of Macedonia to show compassion to those he defeated. It was also Alexander who burned Persepolis to ruins.

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Written by DARA Artisans.Apr 21, 2016

Spring Living Room Updates

unspecified-8Out with the old and in with the new. Revamp your living space with DARA exclusives! From throws to furniture – we have handpicked the top 10 must haves for your living room update.

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Written by DARA Artisans.Apr 04, 2016
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Vintage Tunisian Textiles

DARA Artisans recently traveled on a sourcing trip to Tunisia, a delightful gem of a country on the Mediterranean coast of North Africa.  As a lover of textiles, I was instantly taken with the exotic charm of vintage Berber weavings from the southern deserts. (more…)

Written by DARA Artisans.Mar 07, 2016

Mountain Retreat Essentials ’16

unspecified-1Although the groundhog did not see its shadow this year, there is still time to purchase items for your spring mountain retreat! Now’s a great time to spice up your winter wardrobe with the latest trends. We’ve assembled a roundup of our favorite, beautifully handmade picks for the mountains.
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Written by DARA Artisans.Mar 02, 2016

Spring Break ’16 Must Haves

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Your long-awaited spring break getaway is just around the corner and we hope you’re heading off to a warm, tropical destination for some serious R&R. But first…allow us to reduce the stress of packing with these DARA top spring break essentials. Bon Voyage!

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Written by DARA Artisans.Mar 02, 2016
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A Printmaker Grows in Brooklyn

The value of reexamination is inherent in works of true craftsmanship—each time you stop to admire them, you notice something new and captivating—something you never saw before.

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Written by DARA Artisans.Feb 04, 2016
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Meet the Steve Jobs of Ceramics

Korean ceramicist Yi Yoonshin doesn’t just want to create exquisitely handcrafted pottery—she wants to use exquisitely handcrafted pottery to change people’s lives.

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Written by DARA Artisans.Jan 21, 2016
TASTEMAKER: Ken Fish


Occupation:  President and Founder of Absolute Travel

Location: New York, NY 

Instagram: @absolutetravel

Favorite Things: Travel and jazz music


Explore Ken's DARA picks...

Tastemaker: Ken Fish, Founder of Absolute Travel

We’re partnering with our favorite trendsetters, globetrotters, style icons from around the world to bring you the DARA Artisans Tastemaker Series. This new feature will highlight everything from insider travel tips and restaurant recommendations to coveted style forecasts and favorite discoveries.

Today we meet Ken Fish, President and Founder of Absolute Travel.
(more…)

Written by DARA Artisans.Dec 17, 2015
TASTEMAKER: Emily Miller


Occupation:  Founder of Trends on Trends

Location: Brooklyn, NY 

Instagram: @trendsontrends_

Favorite Things: Food, travel, and searching for beautiful and delicious things around the world.


Explore Emily's DARA picks...

Tastemaker: Emily Miller, founder of Trends on Trends

We’re partnering with our favorite trendsetters, globetrotters, style icons from around the world to bring you the DARA Artisans Tastemaker Series. This new feature will highlight everything from insider travel tips and restaurant recommendations to coveted style forecasts and favorite discoveries.

Today we meet Emily Miller, the founder of Trends on Trends. (more…)

Written by DARA Artisans.Dec 09, 2015
TASTEMAKER: Andrea Stanford


Occupation: Design & Interiors Editor for C Magazine

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Instagram: @andreabstanford

Favorite Things: Vintage sourcing, warm interiors, and collecting beautifully handcrafted pieces. 


Explore Andrea's DARA picks...



Portrait by Nicole LaMotte

Tastemaker: Andrea Stanford, Design & Interiors Editor for C Magazine

We’re partnering with our favorite trendsetters, globetrotters, style icons from around the world to bring you the DARA Artisans Tastemaker Series. This new feature will highlight everything from insider travel tips and restaurant recommendations to coveted style forecasts and favorite discoveries.

Today we meet Andrea Stanford, Design & Interiors Editor for C Magazine. (more…)

Written by DARA Artisans.Nov 17, 2015
 
Our Mission

DARA Artisans promotes cultural curiosity and a sense of discovery by offering a sophisticated edit of handmade artisan crafts to an audience seeking authentic, responsibly sourced designs with a modern aesthetic.